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Daniel Olmstead
05-26-2009, 07:34 PM
I have a problem with my squat that I think is not uncommon, but I'm not sure the best way to go about fixing it.

As I near the bottom of my squat, my upper body tilts way forward. I can get below parallel without difficulty, but I can't do it with my chest upright. If you stand me in front of a wall and tell me to squat, I have a very difficult time not smacking my nose into the wall.

It's not much a problem with air squats or light weight, but as weight gets higher in my front, overhead and back squats, I'm definitely hitting trouble maintaining form at the bottom.

What's the best way to go about fixing this? It feels like a back flexibility thing - like I can't arch my back enough - but I'm told it's my hamstrings. Are there any specific drills or stretches I can do to get my body more upright at the bottom of the squat?

Thanks,
-Daniel

Steven Low
05-26-2009, 09:41 PM
Video tape it.

Could be a flexibility issue... could be something else too.

Generally if you're bending over too much it's probably not a flexibility issue especially if your lumbar spine is kept in extension.

Brandon Oto
05-26-2009, 11:26 PM
... this may not be a bad thing depending on what sort of squat you're trying to do.

Torsten Hauptmann
05-27-2009, 12:03 AM
supposing that you want an olympic style squat here are my experiences:
i had the same problem but i had a hamstring/quads imbalance so that i leaned forward to generate more power from the hamstrings... but neverless back then my squats have been weak and i felt like loosing all the tension when going below paralell but my oly coach improved my squats in the last two month:
he made me frontsquat about 60% of my max "with tension" that means going very slow and not all the way to the top (about 45 when you consider 90 as paralell) so i did 5x5 ad withing two month did my squat improve a lot. i now can back and frontsquat very upright.

so here is my suggestion take a light weight which you can squat with proper form and but then squat it with tension make a squat that long that the weight does not seem that light but that it needs efford to squat it. then if you do not go all the way to the top and relax during your 5 reps you will find that you were under tension during all your squat something which i could not learn from squatting light weights in the normal manner or doing doubles or trippels with heavyer weights (there i lost form).

hope the helps a litte

Steven Quadros
05-27-2009, 09:49 AM
A video would be best, but realize that a high bar, olympic style squat will have the knees well forward of the toes to maintain as upright a torso as is possible. Even with that happening, there will be some forward lean at the bottom of the squat, assuming it's not a front squat. This keeps the bar in balance over the midfoot.

Unless there is weight on my back, I require a very narrow stance to get A2A comfortably. I have narrow hips and relatively long limbs at 6'1 , though nothing too out of proportion.

If this isn't a setup or stance issue, and you find your hips rising to fast, which is what Torsten mentions, then backing off the weight and working back up without letting the hips shoot is a tried and true method.

If it is stance and/or setup, then doing what Greg Everett has mentioned before, getting to the bottom of your squat and shuffling the feet, toes, and knees around until you have a very upright torso seems to be the best way to find your stance. This actually has me squatting with a very narrow stance, which I widen up when under a bar just a tad.

Arden Cogar Jr.
05-28-2009, 12:41 PM
I had the same problem and mine was to do with ankle/calf flexibility and too many years of back squatting.

It was remedied by stretching my calves between sets and throughout the day.

It took me about 4 months to get more comfortable front squatting and stop learning forward.

Good luck and happy training.

All the best,
Arden

Daniel Olmstead
05-28-2009, 10:37 PM
Video tape it.

Could be a flexibility issue... could be something else too.

Generally if you're bending over too much it's probably not a flexibility issue especially if your lumbar spine is kept in extension.

Here's a video of a few different squats - very heavy (for me) low rep back squats, midweight high-rep back squats, and air squats: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ra6NlfvxLAM

I've never actually recorded myself doing air squats before, and am surprised/dismayed at how rounded my back is. I suspect this is the root of the problem right there? In which case the question becomes, "how do I improve lumbar extension"?

... this may not be a bad thing depending on what sort of squat you're trying to do.

All sorts, but the impetus for posting this was that I have trouble losing/dumping the weight forward at the bottom of front and overhead squats, particular when the weight gets high.

Gavin Harrison
05-29-2009, 05:40 AM
Here's a video of a few different squats - very heavy (for me) low rep back squats, midweight high-rep back squats, and air squats: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ra6NlfvxLAM

I've never actually recorded myself doing air squats before, and am surprised/dismayed at how rounded my back is. I suspect this is the root of the problem right there? In which case the question becomes, "how do I improve lumbar extension"?



All sorts, but the impetus for posting this was that I have trouble losing/dumping the weight forward at the bottom of front and overhead squats, particular when the weight gets high.

Solution! Cut out the LBBS's... Glenn Pendlay first made this clear to me, but think about it for a second. LBBS's make your squatting strong in the really-leaned-forward-hamstrings-doing-all-the-work position, which is not ideal for front or overhead squatting. This is why Oly lifters do not do them, and instead do HBBS's with a more upright position.

Darryl Shaw
05-29-2009, 06:48 AM
Here's a video of a few different squats - very heavy (for me) low rep back squats, midweight high-rep back squats, and air squats: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ra6NlfvxLAM

I've never actually recorded myself doing air squats before, and am surprised/dismayed at how rounded my back is. I suspect this is the root of the problem right there? In which case the question becomes, "how do I improve lumbar extension"?

All sorts, but the impetus for posting this was that I have trouble losing/dumping the weight forward at the bottom of front and overhead squats, particular when the weight gets high.

1: Listen to the lady in the video - chest up!

2: End the set before your form breaks down and your squats turn into good mornings.

3: Do front squats and stretches with a sandbag held in the rack position and work on finding a stance that works with your longish looking femurs.

Brandon Oto
05-29-2009, 08:29 AM
Probably just weak quads. I do the same. More front squats (thanks John) wouldn't be uncalled for.

Your squats have some more general issues, though.

Nice to see ye old Ironworks.

Edit: you have long femurs but I never want to see air squats like that... back to basics, proper spinal extension (lumbar AND thoracic), and weightlifting shoes will help some.

Steven Quadros
06-02-2009, 09:45 AM
Probably just weak quads. I do the same. More front squats (thanks John) wouldn't be uncalled for.

Your squats have some more general issues, though.

Nice to see ye old Ironworks.

Edit: you have long femurs but I never want to see air squats like that... back to basics, proper spinal extension (lumbar AND thoracic), and weightlifting shoes will help some.

In my opinion it's more than just weak quads. It looks like you're losing ALL semblance of back extension and doing a round back good morning with a weight that you probably shouldn't be doing that with. Judging by the complete lack of extension in your air squats as well, you need to stretch the living hell out of your hamstrings, glutes, adductors (straight leg+ bent knee).

I've been on a quest to complete eliminate all pevlic tuck from my squat, which is high bar olympic style, and have gotten, in two weeks, from significant lumbar flattening (not rounding) to almost complete extension with slight movement in the very last section of the lower spine. Mostly from the adductor magnus stretch: http://www.exrx.net/Stretches/HipAdductors/KneelingAdductorMagnus.html
and something called a frog straddle, which is a straddle on the knees with the knee bent. You would basically get into child's pose, and then straight your back/torso, and open your knees as much as possible. I can't find a picture, but I basically keep my spine fully extended (learn what this feels like) and drop myself between my hips, hold for a few seconds, and then come back up, and repeat for reps as often as I can. I make sure I can squeeze my glutes in that position too, as that is important out of the hole on squats.

I can see the flexibility coming, and part of it was also just establishing kinestetic awareness. I cannot maintain the same extension during a weighted, full speed squat as I can when I'm squatting slowly just yet, but I'm working on it.

Brandon Oto
06-02-2009, 12:23 PM
http://www.trickstutorials.com/images/s40.jpg

Steven Quadros
06-02-2009, 12:56 PM
http://www.trickstutorials.com/images/s40.jpg

That exact stretch from the exact site from which I had learned it. I change it slightly by sitting upright, hands off the floor and sitting down into it, as I would a squat. I notice that if I don't squeeze my glutes it can feel like I'm getting my groin pulled apart, and is a mildly painful stretch compared to others.

Dave Van Skike
06-02-2009, 01:59 PM
Daniel,

Are you squatting as an adjunct to Olympic Lifting? Do you have a specific goal?

With your long legs I'd say you the way to fix this is way different than doing front squats and high bar back squats. where the bar is on your back is not relevant. Chest up is a fiune cue but doesn't workj for everyone. I like elbows under teh bar and arch your upper back.

your core and upper back are weak and your hips are very tight. I'd suggest almost the exact opposite of the standard, "do more front squats and ass to ankles narrow squats"

I'd have you start squatting off a high box in a wide stance with flat shoes. that drill and face the wall squats with overhead squats for warm up would cure this in about two weeks.

Daniel Olmstead
06-03-2009, 09:29 AM
Thanks all,

I'm at the last week of a strength cycle that was loosely based on SS and CFSB (linear progression weekly of LBBS, deadlifts, etc), and while it has definitely made me stronger, it has also highlighted some of these areas that I really need to fix before I do another cycle. So to answer Dave, my specific goal has been just to get generally stronger (to be able to do more CF WODs as RXd), but that goal is about to shift to a refocusing on technique. I do have plans for an Olympic cycle (my Oly lifts are horrible), but probably not until August.

So here's the plan: finish the strength cycle this week so I can get all geeky with the spreadsheets trying to measure results. Then spend the next few weeks - until the Games - doing straight CrossFit with an emphasis on fixing faults in form, particularly back & posture. I'll do those painful-looking frog stretches, and OHS against the wall with a dowel, and foam rolling, and sitting up straight, and seeing a chiropractor. Maybe I'll get one of those ball chairs for work.

Then, in late July/early August, I'll start an Oly cycle that will also feature a linear progression of front squats and overhead squats.

How does that sound?
-D

Steven Quadros
06-03-2009, 12:46 PM
Thanks all,

I'm at the last week of a strength cycle that was loosely based on SS and CFSB (linear progression weekly of LBBS, deadlifts, etc), and while it has definitely made me stronger, it has also highlighted some of these areas that I really need to fix before I do another cycle. So to answer Dave, my specific goal has been just to get generally stronger (to be able to do more CF WODs as RXd), but that goal is about to shift to a refocusing on technique. I do have plans for an Olympic cycle (my Oly lifts are horrible), but probably not until August.

So here's the plan: finish the strength cycle this week so I can get all geeky with the spreadsheets trying to measure results. Then spend the next few weeks - until the Games - doing straight CrossFit with an emphasis on fixing faults in form, particularly back & posture. I'll do those painful-looking frog stretches, and OHS against the wall with a dowel, and foam rolling, and sitting up straight, and seeing a chiropractor. Maybe I'll get one of those ball chairs for work.

I'll be honest, if you were my trainee or friend, I wouldn't let you continue squatting with form like that. It was really, really bad.

Then, in late July/early August, I'll start an Oly cycle that will also feature a linear progression of front squats and overhead squats.

How does that sound?
-D

Fix your problems with form at weights where you don't have to worry about pushing the weight, and start working- as Dave suggested- from high boxes, moving down so long as you can maintain a hard arch. If you're going to be olympic lifting, will you be high bar squatting? If so, because it stretches the hamstring less, you'll need a little less flexibility, but still far, far more than you have right now. Stretch 2-3 times a day hitting everything in the posterior chain- hamstrings, adductors, glutes.

The front squat will take less flexibility than even the high bar back squat because of the even more upright torso, but you still may lack even that level of flexibility. Maybe Greg or another coach can chime in, but I personally would not let someone whose back rounded that badly on a squat continue to progress in weight until they had done some dedicated stretching and were able to achieve some semblance of spinal extension at depth. A little flattening of the lumbar arch is going to kill anyone, but you completely round.

I would spend the period of time we'd normally be squatting working on stretching and maybe putting the bar on your back and having you squat only so far as you could maintain spinal extension.

Dave Van Skike
06-03-2009, 02:21 PM
regardless of bar positon or foot postion, I've had good luck with face the wall squats and graduated box squats in a very very wide stance

Brandon Oto
07-06-2009, 11:26 PM
That exact stretch from the exact site from which I had learned it. I change it slightly by sitting upright, hands off the floor and sitting down into it, as I would a squat. I notice that if I don't squeeze my glutes it can feel like I'm getting my groin pulled apart, and is a mildly painful stretch compared to others.

I've been trying this for a while now. It's the most painful goddamned thing I've ever felt. Fuck you for suggesting it.

Harry Munro
07-08-2009, 01:07 AM
I had the same problem, fixed it by forcing myself to do front squats and goblet squats for 4 weeks.

Ben Moskowitz
07-08-2009, 10:46 AM
That exact stretch from the exact site from which I had learned it. I change it slightly by sitting upright, hands off the floor and sitting down into it, as I would a squat. I notice that if I don't squeeze my glutes it can feel like I'm getting my groin pulled apart, and is a mildly painful stretch compared to others.

I can't quite visualize what you're describing. Is it something like this
http://www.trickstutorials.com/images/s38.jpg like what is described in Starting Strength?

Maybe the horse stance? http://www.stadion.com/gif/Kibas5-7.jpg

Brandon Oto
07-08-2009, 11:55 AM
Knees and butt stay on the ground.